Boris Johnson says you should be like Dominic Cummings and ‘follow your instincts’ – so it’s your fault if you haven’t

However, you can just apologise to your parents for having not seen them for months and send out cards of apology about the cancelled wedding, the empty funeral

Tom Peck
Political Sketch Writer
Monday 25 May 2020 01:03
Boris Johnson doesn't say if he approved Cummings' trip

Right. Where were we? Pub anyone? Maybe get the parents round for a barbecue?

Indoor, outdoor, whatever you choose. Or if you really want to do something to mark the end of lockdown, which occurred at 5pm on Sunday evening, why not head to your nearest hospital and shake hands with a few coronavirus patients?

There is no guidance in place anymore, none at all. Just do what Dominic Cummings did and “follow your instincts” and you’ll end up in the right place: Durham; Barnard Castle; intensive care; wherever it is you’ll know when you get there.

That was the official reason given by Boris Johnson, for choosing not to fire his most senior adviser, Dominic Cummings, despite his explicitly having broken the lockdown rules anywhere between one and three times (that we know of).

When he drove to Durham with a car full of coronavirus, and from there, onward to Barnard Castle two weeks later, Dominic Cummings had “followed his instincts”. And as long as you’re following instincts you can officially now do no wrong.

Well, not now. You could never do any wrong. In fact, if you chose not to follow your instincts at any point in the last 10 miserable weeks, well, you’ve only got yourself to blame.

But it’s not too late. Just apologise to your parents for having not seen them for months. Say sorry to mum, say sorry to dad, send out cards of apology about the cancelled wedding and the empty funeral. Just remember, it’s not your fault you didn’t follow your instincts and do the right thing. You’re not Dominic Cummings after all. None of us are.

Perhaps you didn’t know that all you were meant to do was “follow your instincts”. Perhaps you’d been, I don’t know, reading the words on those lecterns, the ones that said, “Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives.”

The ones that were written by Dominic Cummings, who didn’t stay home, didn’t protect the NHS, and absolutely, unequivocally, without any shadow of a doubt whatsoever, did endanger other people’s lives.

The details of the 5pm national embarrassment are scarcely worth bothering to go into. Johnson has always been a professional liar, but in much the same way as the bloke who did your bathroom was a professional painter.

Ask him to have a crack at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which in lying terms is somewhere on the scale of what was required, and you’ll end up with what might turn out to have been Boris Johnson’s masterwork.

It is scarcely worth the trouble even to type out that he quite literally said the words, “I think he followed the instinct of every father.” Let’s just say that paternal instinct is unlikely to be the prime minister’s specialist subject on Mastermind, and the family courts have the documents to prove it.

Did Dominic Cummings follow the instincts of every father? There is, of course, much to debate there.

Boris Johnson skirts question over whether Dominic Cummings took 30 mile day trip during lockdown

There are many fathers whose instincts might tell them that, with being the prime minister’s most senior adviser, breaking the lockdown rules I helped to write might, potentially have implications for my employment, and thus my ability to provide for my family. But then, not every father can drive to the family home in Durham and stay in a “separate building” to their actual family, and if that doesn’t work out, just push on another 50 miles to the in-law’s castle.

What seems less debatable is that he also followed the instincts of every father in making another trip, so a witness says, two weeks later to look at some bluebells in Barnard Castle, thirty miles away.

Johnson began his press conference by saying he had had an “extensive face-to-face conversation” with Dominic Cummings that day, but evidently they had not been extensive enough to ask him that question, because he would later be unable to answer it himself, several times, on live television.

What can we say? Maybe his instincts kicked in, the one that told him, somehow, maybe, he was better off not knowing.

There was also, of course, some very hastily arranged announcements about schools going back, in a desperate bid to shift national anger on to something else – 1 June is the date in question, and shops too.

But it’s more an aspiration than an announcement. Send the kids back if you fancy it, if you don’t then don’t. Just follow your instinct. Turns out, that was the guidance all along.

Anyway, who cares. Whose round is it?

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